2017/18 in edtech: The who's-who

Patrick Hayes

Patrick Hayes is the director of the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA), the only trade association covering the entire UK educational suppliers sector. BESA has over 80 years of heritage serving UK education and has over 300 members, with a combined annual revenue of £2 billion. Patrick was previously an executive director at TES Global host to the largest network of teachers in the world.

Website: www.besa.org.uk Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Image courtesy of author. Image courtesy of author.

A year in edtech in one word? “Bett” - as in the Bett Show (24th - 27th January 2018). The largest edtech show in the world takes place in London every January. Over 900 exhibitors fill the vast hall of ExCeL London, with upwards of 35,000 people visiting from across the globe. From the cutting-edge of virtual reality, to innovative initiatives helping schools cut down on workload and help save money, it’s all there.

Admittedly to a first-timer, it can seem a lot to take in – so some advance planning is useful. Look at the floor plan to locate edtech companies you already know and use, who will give you a warm welcome and show you what exciting new plans they have for the year. But also allow yourself time to wander through the stands and see what grabs your attention. Also, keep a close eye on Twitter – a blizzard of big new announcements about new edtech products or partnerships are made at the show.

The Bett Futures area is always a buzzing hive of activity. Full of new ideas, usually developed by teachers themselves, this is where you see the next generation of edtech products and services activity being forged. Also, the discussions and presentations are always stimulating, giving you lots of ideas for the classroom.

Meanwhile, in June, London EdTech Week brings together a wide range of edtech influencers to engage in debates and showcase new products. Every day of the week there is something exciting happening, from BESA-organised debates about edtech policy in Parliament, to EdTech Exchange networking drinks.

But many of the best edtech events take place throughout the year. To get intimate with the latest developments in edtech, visit one of the many Innovate My School LIVE events scheduled to take place across the country and “speed-date” with some of the best companies to get a dazzling overview of what might work for your pupils.

We at BESA also run debates and discussions that connect edtech companies and educators across the country. Recently we’ve discussed issues ranging from ‘reasons to be cheerful about education’ – where we put aside the doom and gloom and celebrated the profession – to ‘what is the role of the teacher today?’

British edtech companies are renowned the world over, and while many of the best events are in the UK, there are other fantastic events throughout the year across the globe. In America, you have SXSW EDU, the “Glastonbury of edtech” in March, followed by ASU GSV – the largest gathering of edtech start-ups and investors - in San Diego in May, and the conference for school ICT leaders, Texas-based ISTE in June. In China, it has to be GET (Global Education Technology) in Beijing every November. In the Middle East, it’s GESS Dubai, which takes place every March. And in Australia, it’s EduTech, which takes place in June. Bett is also now conquering the world, with landmark events taking place in Mexico, Brazil and Malaysia. Who knows where next?

An essential resource to keep tabs on the movers and shakers in education technology is the EdTech Podcast. The editor, Sophie Bailey, is a perennial figure at all of the best edtech events. Armed with her recording equipment, she’s always at the forefront of activity, asking stimulating questions and identifying new trends. If you have a calendar clash and can’t make it to an edtech event – it’s a safe bet the EdTech Podcast will have been there, and at many more you might not have heard of too!

This article is taken from the Innovate My School Guide 2017/18. To read the full publication, visit www.innovatemyschool.com/guides.

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